Articulation disorders in speakers of your native language

Discussion in 'Cultural Discussions' started by Kelly B, Jan 3, 2010.

  1. Kelly B

    Kelly B Senior Member

    USA English
    In American English, even among adults without physical impairments, it is not terribly uncommon to hear a lisp (the letter s is pronounced as th or another fricative) or a dropped r (the letter r sounds like w or oo). I'm not referring to regional variants, nor to idiosyncracies.

    Do the same kinds of issues exist among adult native speakers of your own language?
  2. whatchama Senior Member

    bonsoir KellyB, voulez-vous parler des gens "qui ont un cheveu sur la langue" pour la prononciation des s ou ch ?

    pour les dropped r, pourriez svp vous donner un exemple de mot, je ne fais pas pour l'instant de relation avec un mot en français.

    to be continued ?
  3. sokol

    sokol Senior Member

    Vienna, Austria; raised in Upper Austria
    Austrian (as opposed to Australian)
    In Austria most minor speech deficiencies haven't been treated at all till approx. the 1980ies, and yes they're not that uncommon here either: lisps ("s" pronounced similar to English "th"), postalveolar instead of palatoalveolar "sh", etc.

    Since the 1990ies and especially the naughties (2000+) however speech therapists have begun testing children at an early age (already in kindergarten, and then of course in primary school) and those with even minor deficiencies get special treatment. (It's for free, paid for by national health care.)

    I'm not sure if this already has lead to a significant decline of minor speech deficiencies but it eventually will, I suppose.
  4. Paulfromitaly

    Paulfromitaly MODerator

    Brescia (Italy)
    Some Italian native speakers cannot pronounce the "GL" sound correctly, distorting it into a long "I".
    Maglione --> maiione
    Coniglio --> coniio.

    While this is a common and acceptable mistake foreigners make, native speakers should be able to pronounce the GL correctly.
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2010
  5. Vanda

    Vanda Moderesa de Beagá

    Belo Horizonte, BRASIL
    Português/ Brasil
    We have some of these around here. Some people can't pronounce the lh (=gl in Italian) correctly. An example: /mulher/, they pronounce as /muler/
    Some people can't say the /l/ inside a word. One of my nephews till now have problems saying it correctly: /tio Paulinho/ goes like /tio Pauinho/ (yes, he is an adult).
    Some people drop the final r of some words (mainly verbs): estudá, falá...
    I know we have more examples but I have to think about it...
  6. mirx Banned

    In Mexico, in people from rural backgrounds, usually with poor academic formation, but most importantly, old. One can hear them dropping their "c" before a "t", so that Victor comes out as "Vitor"or the opposite; putting letters where there should be none: Pizza is sometimes enunciated as "picsa", pepsi as "pecsi", and o sea may become an "o seas". In the same fashion these same people may pronounce S instead of "X"; thus, sexto becomes "sesto".

    As for a lisp as such, I have never heard it in adults unless as a medical condition.
  7. StefKE

    StefKE Senior Member

    French - Belgium
    I don't know if this relates to your question, but in French some people make what we call "barbarismes". They slightly modify a word and create a form that doesn't exist. The most famous one is *aréoport instead of aéroport (= airport).
  8. Frank06

    Frank06 Senior Member

    Nederlands / Dutch (Belgium)

    Reading some of the answers, I wonder what is meant by articulation disorders.

    I'm a bit surprised here. I thought it wasn't uncommon among people from e.g. Nordeste? Is it an articulation disorder or a dialectical variant?
    If so, do people from e.g. Fortaleza have a reason to consider falar as an articulation disorder? :-D?
    (Just wondering because some of my Brazilian friends come from Fortaleza and I am learning (willy nilly) their variant of "Portuguese with vowels", i.e. Brazialian Portuguese.)

    As far as I understand, articulation disorders aren't to be linked to social class, education, age or region. Aren't you describing dialectical differences?
    Again, just wondering.

    As for speakers of Dutch (in Flanders): the lisp is commonly regarded as a speech disorder.

    Some adults have problems with (tongue-tip) /r/ and produce a sound which sounds like a /j/. The /r/ - /j/ mix up is also common among little kids. If I am not wrong, the /r/ is one of the last sounds they learn how to produce.

    Tongue-tip /r/, however, is not the only accepted (or acceptable) way to produce an /r/.

    In the past, the Belgian/Flemish national broadcast organisation didn't hire speakers with an /R/ (so-called French r) because it was considered as an articulation disorder. These days, French r's and other r's which differ from the 'classic' tongue-tip /r/ are accepted, though not all of them are (fully) recommended in pronunciation guidelines.


    Last edited: Jan 4, 2010
  9. mirx Banned

    As I understood the question, these people have affected speech but without any physical impediment that explains it. What I described could not be classed as a dialect, as they are isolated cases rather than the norm. I meant some people living in rural settings who also tend to be old, if it were a dialect all the people in rural settings would speak like that and is not the case.
  10. curly

    curly Senior Member

    English - Ireland
    I know a 4 year old French child that pronounces his cousin's name (Marion) as if it was Maillon.
  11. ewie

    ewie Senior Member

    This septic isle!
    NW Englandish English
    I hate to say it, Kelly, but I'm really not sure what you're asking about.
    Surely if a person (for example) lisps, and it's not a result of physical impairment or regional variation, it can only be idiosyncrasy
    (or 'affectation', or 'something else' ...:D)
    Can you elaborate your question a bit?
  12. Vanda

    Vanda Moderesa de Beagá

    Belo Horizonte, BRASIL
    Português/ Brasil
    You are right, Frank. My bad. This is not an articulation problem. I've mixed it with the other cases.
  13. sokol

    sokol Senior Member

    Vienna, Austria; raised in Upper Austria
    Austrian (as opposed to Australian)
    Sorry for not waiting for Kelly to give an answer - and I'm anyway not sure if what Kelly meant were speech disorders; but if this were so then the answer is: yes, in a way it is idiosyncrasy what we're talking about (because speech disorders too are idiosyncratic), but there's a difference:

    - If somebody is affected on purpose (probably with pronouncing high-pitched vowels, or palatalised consonants when they shouldn't be palatalised, neither in standard language nor any social or regional dialect) then this is idiosyncrasy, and nothing but.

    - If however somebody is using some unusual sounds (which are not typical for a specific accent, dialect or sociolect) because he or she is incapable of pronouncing a more standard sound in the language (dialect) given then this is a speech disorder.
    In German, lisping is a speech disorder - it is not a feature of any German dialect or accent. People lisping on purpose are rare (and do so only to imitate somebody, or probably tell a joke, etc).
    It is safe to say that probably 95% of the lisping you hear in public (from German native speakers) is a speech disorder.

    They're common with children while they're acquiring their native tongue, and most people loose them when growing up; however, some speech disorders remain.
    Among my relatives and friends I know plenty which have some idiosyncrasy of speech (like an alveolar "r" which is not too common in Austria), and a few who have some minor speech disorder (for example, one pronounces "s" almost dental, without however lisping, while alveolar "s" would be standard in both dialect and standard language; or another has a slightly postalveolar "sh") which are hardly noticed by anybody - but they're still, technically speaking, minor speech disorders, and not just idiosyncratic sounds they're cultivating on purpose.

    That's the difference as I see it - purpose of doing so, or not knowing how to pronounce any other way. And when I wrote my post above this is what I wrote about - speech disorders.
  14. ernest_

    ernest_ Senior Member

    Catalan, Spain
    In Catalan, the most striking is people who can't pronounce ars properly. Some use an uvular ar, as in French or German, and some others and approximant that resembles that of British English. Very few people suffer from this affliction. I would say 1 in a million, at the very most.
  15. Kelly B

    Kelly B Senior Member

    USA English
    I'm sorry, I didn't choose my words properly. :eek: Sokol expressed it very well.
    By articulation disorders I mean the failure to accurately reproduce phonemes (as opposed to reversing letters, stuttering, other categories of speech disorders).

    With "not idiosyncratic", I meant to avoid affectations and highly individual errors, the anecdotal sort of thing. Instead, I'm wondering about the speech disorders/errors that are fairly common in your language, yet are not learned from one's family or neighbors. As Sokol mentioned, they're often observed in children, but usually outgrown.

    Thanks to all who have replied!

    [I remain very curious whether this exists among speakers of languages with fewer consonants, or tonal languages.]
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2010
  16. ampurdan

    ampurdan Modstachioed modnster

    jiā tàiluó ní yà
    Català & español (Spain)
    In Spanish, yes, some people speak with a lisp as a language disorder. Most of Spain Spanish has both phonemes /s/ and /θ/, but these people pronounce both like /θ/.

    As Ernest has explained, in Catalan some people do cannot pronounce their "Rs" very well. Most strikingly, a rather famous radio host who has been on the air for decades suffers from this "problem".

    Also in Catalan, some people cannot pronounce "ll" (/ʎ/) properly. I had this problem since my teens, but then I learned to pronounce it.
  17. Pedro y La Torre

    Pedro y La Torre Senior Member

    Paris, France
    English (Ireland)
    This is pretty common. From what I've seen, French children normally take a few years to get used to the peculiar French R.
    Hence children will often come out with "muno" instead of Bruno etc.
  18. sokol

    sokol Senior Member

    Vienna, Austria; raised in Upper Austria
    Austrian (as opposed to Australian)
    Well, Austrian dialects are pretty rich in vowels and diphtongs (but still do allow for complicated consonant clusters), and such speech disorders also exist in those dialects.

    However, languages with predominantly CVCV structure (Consonant-Vowel-structure, without any or at least not many consonant clusters) would be more interesting here: languages like Italian and Japanese.

    (I would be surprised if there weren't similar speech disorders in, say, Italian - which has a tendency towards CVCV, especially its southern dialects -, but of course I can only guess here.)
  19. cherine

    cherine Moderator

    Alexandria, Egypt
    Arabic (Egypt).

    Lisp is considered a speech disorder in Arabic too. Although the "th" sound exists in Standard Arabic (fusHa), it's different from the "s", and it's non-existent in the Egyptian dialect. So, whenever you hear an "th", it's most certainly a speech disorder.

    Another common speech disorder is the inability to pronounce the "r", which is not as strong as the Spanish "r", but not like the English "r" either. Some people pronounce it like a French "r" or an Arabic ghayn غ , others pronounce it like a "y" or yaa2 ي , with different degrees of perceptibility (for both the gh and the y).
    For example, my name would be pronounced as sheghin and/or sheyin by those persons. Some people consider this "disorder" (I don't know if there's a name for it in English) cute.
    I never met anyone who sees lisp as cute.

    Speech therapy is a rather new thing in Egypt (less than 20 years maybe) and not many persons know about it (yet). So such speech disorders are rather common between adults.

    As for children having difficulty pronouncing some sounds, I think it's rather normal. They learn the right pronunciation as they grow. "K" is one of the letters than represent difficulty to some children; they pronounce it as "t", lisp is also common between children. Other phonemes too, but these are what I could remember for now.
    Same here. I don't think there's an Arab speaker, in any broadcasting organization, with this "disorder" or who lisp. If there are any, I can assure you that they would be a very small minority.
    The funny thing is that one of Egypt's most famous composers, who also happened to be an excellent singer, Mohamed Abdel-Wahab, had a very slight lisp. I don't think any other singer could get away with that. :)

    This reminds me of something that I used to find strange. Some people don't keep the same disorder in all words. For example, I had a professor in the university who spelled some of the "r" like the regular Arabic "r", and sometimes as the French "r". I thought it was maybe related to the position of the "r" in the words, but I didn't pay enough attention to that at the time. :)

    Same here (in Egypt).
  20. Wadi Hanifa

    Wadi Hanifa Senior Member

    Talal Maddah, the second most famous singer in Saudi Arabia (and a good friend of Abdel-Wahhab's by the way) had a trademark speech impediment: he could only barely pronounce any form of [r]. It was much stronger and more obvious than Abdel-Wahhab's lisp. People often made fun of it, but it didn't stop him from becoming one of the most successful artists in the region.
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2010
  21. Frank06

    Frank06 Senior Member

    Nederlands / Dutch (Belgium)
    If I understood well from previous threads, the /r/ - /l/ mix up is a feature of some regional dialects in Brazil.
    (The /r/ - /l/ mix up seems to be a 'problem' which runs through the history of Portuguese, but that's another issue).
    If I understood the literature well (e.g. Mauricio de Sousa, Cebolinha ;)), it also seems to be a problem among kids ("Então, é veldade?").

    But is it a common speech disorder, let's say in São Paulo or Rio de Janeiro?


  22. Vanda

    Vanda Moderesa de Beagá

    Belo Horizonte, BRASIL
    Português/ Brasil
    I wouldn't say it is a speech disorder in SP or Rio but everywhere in the country with some children, mainly in a particular age - I can't precise it right now but I can ask some teachers.

    I've found this article:
    And this one:
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2010
  23. Frank06

    Frank06 Senior Member

    Nederlands / Dutch (Belgium)
    Thanks for the reply, Vanda.
    But I made a mistake: I first described the r/l thing among kids (seems r-sounds are really difficult in many (most?) languages for kids).
    But I actually wanted to ask whether it is a common articulation disorder among adults in regions where there are no r/l deviations in the local dialect/variant. I forgot to add 'among adults' :).

    Like, /r/ poses a problem for a lot of kids here (often produced as /j/), but considered as quite normal in the process at a certain age (I guess 2.5-3.5 years, probably until a bit later). Nobody cares too much, it's considered to be cute, and most kids learn how to produce an 'acceptable' r-sound eventually.
    There are some adults, however, who say /j/ in stead of /r/, and then it's considered to be an articulation disorder.

    Take good care,

  24. pickarooney

    pickarooney Senior Member

    Provence, France
    English (Ireland)
    Is an affected lisp common among gay men in other languages?
  25. ampurdan

    ampurdan Modstachioed modnster

    jiā tàiluó ní yà
    Català & español (Spain)
    Not that I know in Catalan or Spanish from Spain. Is that really a lisp, anyway?
  26. gurseal Senior Member

    USA Southeast
    English - USA
    I, an English-speaking native, have trouble with the "...s th..." combination:
    This is the book that I...
    He has the chops to...
    It's the next best thing since...

    I have to slow down to avoid revealing the "disability," and it embarrasses me when I fail to anticipate having to say it.
  27. wildan1

    wildan1 Moderando ma non troppo

    An AE-native speaker colleague experienced an interesting cross-linguistic speech particularity (I won't call it a disorder; some would). She uses the so-called velar L in the initial position in her native speech (an allophone of the L sound in English that is articulated as a velar stop rather than a lateral in the alveolar area. (Famous US media personalities like Tom Brokaw and Ira Glass use this allophone regularly.)

    When my colleague went to live in Brazil and used this allophone of L in spoken Portuguese, Brazilians thought she was making an initial velar R (as in Rio) rather than an L. This caused a lot of confusion about what she was trying to say!

    My colleague told me she didn't know she pronounced Ls in English unlike most people until this happened to her--at age 40!
  28. sokol

    sokol Senior Member

    Vienna, Austria; raised in Upper Austria
    Austrian (as opposed to Australian)
    But that's a dialect (or accent) feature surely, isn't it? This then of course would not be an articulation disorder.
  29. Vanda

    Vanda Moderesa de Beagá

    Belo Horizonte, BRASIL
    Português/ Brasil
    Our president, among other famous people around here like a famous soccer player, has this lisp problem in speech.
    And I have just had an experience with a friend who visited me half an hour ago. She said: /paiaçada/ instead of /palhaçada/ so I ask her if she was kidding - she had told me about some problems with pronounciation before - and she said that this is the way she would pronounce the word anywhere anytime. So I tried to help her with the /lh/, made her repeat it many times, she could never repeat the sound.
  30. wildan1

    wildan1 Moderando ma non troppo

    I have a Mexican friend who claims he has never been able to pronounce the trilled RR, but instead uses the single flap R (pero and perro sound the same when he says them)

    He said his parents told him "your tongue is too short" and that's what he tells others who notice it.
  31. wildan1

    wildan1 Moderando ma non troppo

  32. Encolpius

    Encolpius Senior Member

    Hi, Hungarian children and some Hungarian adults have problems to pronounce the Hungarian -s- and -r-. Those are the most common disorders.
  33. Muwahid

    Muwahid Senior Member

    U.S. English
    This one my father has, and since he speaks English so well I assumed the R was the only thing he couldn't pronounce right (he would roll it on everything, i.e., Waterrr), but no it's a speech disorder even in Arabic. I think it's not as bad as the lisp in English because most attribute that to homosexuality due to popular culture.
  34. mirx Banned

    My boss was gay, and other gay people that I have met don't any lisps. However, lisps are definitely portrayed as gay. Like the famous "pezzzda" (perra-bitch).
  35. Nanon

    Nanon Senior Member

    Entre Paris et Lisbonne
    français (France)

    The same happens in French: some people pronounce [
    θ] instead of and sometimes also instead of [ʃ], and [ð] instead of [z] and sometimes [ʒ].
    The radio producer Jean-Christophe Averty was famous for that lisp (colloquially known as "cheveu sur la langue" - "hair on the tongue"). He used to make jokes about it: "Mon θθθeveu et moi vous diðons à bientôt", etc... :D

    Some people with severe lisps even pronounce something close to
    [ɮ] (the actress Isabelle Mergault!)

    The same disorder is not uncommon in native Russian speakers. I had a Russian teacher who had it. He used to say that he was naturally gifted for French :p... I know several other people who have it. And Lenin had that lisp, too.

    I heard that it is also common among Greek speakers, though I don't speak Greek.
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2010
  36. sokol

    sokol Senior Member

    Vienna, Austria; raised in Upper Austria
    Austrian (as opposed to Australian)
    This reminds me: the "French r" is used by Carinthian Slovene dialect speakers (both when speaking dialect and standard language): this is a dialect feature and should be due to influence of the "French r" preferred by mononlingual German speaking Austrians.

    But in Slovenia this "French r" would be considered as an articulation disorder; Slovenes from the Republic of Slovenia thus always find it very strange indeed when they learn that for Carinthian Slovene speakers this "French r" is native.
  37. sakvaka

    sakvaka Moderoitsija

    The most typical Finnish articulation disorders are l-vika, s-vika and r-vika. You can guess what sounds are difficult to pronounce for people suffering them. I myself am unable to pronounce "s" correctly. My "l" is also bit strange and not as bright as it should be.

    Speaking disorders are not considered very common since you rarely encounter people suffering from them in public. Tv announcers and hosts always have a perfect articulation. On the other hand, the president of my country suffers from them.
  38. effeundici Senior Member

    Italian - Tuscany
    The most typical pronunciation defects in Italian are the lisp and the so called "limp r" which consists in using the French r in the place of the Italian trilling sound.

    If you want to hear some examples search for videos where Gianni Agnelli ("limp r") and Niki Vendola (lisp) speak.
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2010
  39. itka Senior Member

    Ho ascoltato Agnelli quì ma non sento la [R] francese... Parliamo della stessa personna ?
  40. effeundici Senior Member

    Italian - Tuscany
    Qui dove?
  41. itka Senior Member

    Sorry ! Ho dimenticato il link :p. Quì.
  42. Montesacro Senior Member

    Itka, hai ascoltato bene quando dice "in cinquant'anni si fanno tanti errori..."?

    Ecco, quello è un classico esempio di "erre moscia"...

    P.S.: la i di qui non è accentata :);)
  43. effeundici Senior Member

    Italian - Tuscany
    errori ==> This is what I hear; the tongue is definitely floating in the mouth instead of being pressed against the palate (and simultaneously vibrating)
  44. itka Senior Member

    Nella parola "errori" si sente che non è la propria [r] italiana... ma non è nemmeno quella francese... Non so esattamente com'è la "r moscia". Ho sempre creduto fosse la "r" francese, ma qui (;)) ... no.
    Nelle altre parole, sento soltanto una vera [r] italiana, non la sentite così ?

    Si sente una vera [r] francese (moscia ?) quando si ascolta Piemontesi o mi pare anche certi Valdotani.
  45. effeundici Senior Member

    Italian - Tuscany
    errori in this case is a perfect example of r moscia.

    Probably our ear is not refined enough to differentiate between r moscia and French r.
  46. ampurdan

    ampurdan Modstachioed modnster

    jiā tàiluó ní yà
    Català & español (Spain)
    For what it's worth, it does not sound like a French r to Catalan/Spanish-speakers. At least not to me. Actually, I'm not sure I find anything weird in that r.
  47. jmnjmn Senior Member

    Euskal Herria
    Euskaraz ikasten dutenei asko kostatzen zaie euskal txistukarien bereizketa egitea. Nekez bereizten dituzte sistema osatzen duten sei soinuak: "ts", "tz" eta "tx" afrikariak eta "s", "z" eta "x" frikariak. Hala ere, ama-hizkuntza euskara dugun askok ere (mendebaldeko euskalkiaz mintzatzen garenok) ez ditugu bereizten "s" (txistukaria, frikaria, bizkarkari-hobikaria eta gorra) eta "z" (txistukaria, frikaria, apikari-hobikaria, ozena), eta lehenbiziko soinua ahoskatzen dugu (/s/). Gainerakoak, ordea, ondo bereizten ditugu.

    A los que aprenden a hablar vasco sin que sea su lengua materna les cuesta mucho diferenciar las sibilantes. Suelen tener muchas dificultades a la hora de distinguir los seis sonidos que forman el sistema de sibilantes: las africadas "ts", "tz" y "tx" y las fricativas "s", "z" y "x". Pero somos muchos (los que hablamos el dialecto occidental) quienes, teniendo como lengua materna el vasco, no diferenciamos el sonido /s/ (sibilante, fricativa, apical, alveolar, sorda) del sonido /z/ (sibilante, fricativa, dorsal, alveolar, sonora) y los neutralizamos pronunciando el primero (/s/). El resto de sibilantes las diferenciamos bien.
  48. Welshie

    Welshie Senior Member

    England, English
    There are people in Britain who cannot pronounce the 'th' sound and consistently pronounce it as 'f'. I have a friend who does this, it's normally not a problem but sometimes can lead to confusion (three/free for example).
  49. Rallino Moderatoúrkos

    Turkish is a CVCV (consonnant-vowel-cons..) language. And I know that a great deal of Turks are struggling with the loan words that start with two consonants, and they squeeze a subtle vowel in the middle to solve it.

    Tren (Train) --> Tiren
    Kral (King) --> Kıral


    And sometimes they add a vowel in the beginning so that the word doesn't start with two consonants.

    "Stop etmek" is an expression meaning that the Engine of a car has stopped.

    Most people would say: " istop etmek ".

    Secondly, I don't know if it's because they find it difficult, but most turks pronounce the R at the end of the words so lightly, that it comes out like a "sh" sound.

    I was in a tourist tour, the guide was saying humourously:

    The guide: - All right guys, here'sh is our Burger'sh King, it's one of a kind.
    My American friend: - Why is he saying: here'sh, burger'sh etc?
    Me: - He's a Turk. :p

    This is not about any incapability, but merely laziness. And of course there are lisps who can't pronunce the "s", and some people who just can't say "R"s.
    Last edited: Mar 4, 2010
  50. Hakro

    Hakro Senior Member

    Helsinki, Finland
    Finnish - Finland
    This reminds me of a cartoon from the late fifties or early sixties: There's a girl in a recording studio for a singing test. The recording company man says to her: "I'm sorry, young lady, but you can't become a pop singer. You don't lisp your s."

    (In fact, the lisping esses of the singers on those days were more due to the rudimentary recording and audio techniques than articulation disorders of the singers.)

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